Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hope For Us All

It's not exactly a secret at this point that the Kansas City Royals, who stamped their ticket to the 2014 World Series last night, are here after 29 years in the wilderness. But after years of general mediocrity, rebuilding projects that went nowhere, stars that were dealt away for never-will-bes and so many Runelvys Hernandez-types that blew threw the system, they've finally put it together. And it wasn't even quite a sure thing this year, when they sat however many games back in August, but somehow, they caught fire, got into the Playoffs and just took off from there.

Perhaps the Greatest 8-game winning streak in Royals history culminated yesterday with the completion of a convincing ALCS Sweep over the Baltimore Orioles, in which they outhit the O's for two games in Baltimore, outpitched them in two games in KC and basically shoved them off the field with a near-miraculous string of defensive gems. This is a team that's completely unheralded, a group of mostly young players mixed in with some shrewdly-acquired veteran leaders that has banded together in the name of speed, defense and a dominant bullpen. Though they managed only 4 runs over the final two games of the ALCS, and those runs scored on a Sacrifice Fly, an Infield Out and a 2-run Error, their pitching and defense held the Orioles and their lineup of power hitters to 2 runs, which is usually good enough to win every time. Tuesday, the Royals won 2-1. Wednesday, 2-1 again. Both days, all they needed their starting pitchers to do was get the game through 6 innings so that they could turn things over to the 1-2-3 punch of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland to finish things off, and finish it off they did.

During the Division Series, I wrote about how the Postseason chooses who becomes a legend, and how perhaps the Royals Eric Hosmer had been chosen. Hosmer hit .400 for the ALCS, but he didn't stand out among this group. No one player rose up to carry the Royals to victory, they did it all together. Whether it was Alex Gordon or Mike Moustakas, whose Extra-inning Home Runs were key in Game 1, or Salvador Perez, who shook off getting banged around behind the plate to call consistently solid games, or Alcides Escobar, who's emerged as one of those Edgardo Alfonzo-like "Knows How To Play" types, or Lorenzo Cain, who it seems was chosen as the series MVP just because they had to pick someone. This is the recipe for winners. Look at some of the teams that have won World Series Championships in recent years. Like a team the Royals could end up meeting in the World Series, the Giants. Above all, a Team.

A team that only hit 95 Home Runs in the regular season and won only 89 games. A team that was down 4 runs in the Wildcard Game with time running out. But a team that caught fire at the right time and hasn't come down yet. That's the Kansas City Royals of 2014, a team above all, and that's why they're going to represent the American League in the World Series.

And if they can do it, well, hey, anything's possible, isn't it?

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